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Report:  Zoo Tycoon  Dev Blue Fang Lays Off Development Staff

Report: Zoo Tycoon Dev Blue Fang Lays Off Development Staff

July 1, 2011 | By Kris Graft

Waltham, MA-based developer Blue Fang Games is laying off "the entirety of its development staff," a source close to the studio told Gamasutra on Friday.

Blue Fang Games, founded in 1998, is the studio that created the Zoo Tycoon series, and has over the last few years transitioned into a social network game development with Facebook games such as Zoo Kingdom, Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?, and The Oregon Trail.

The layoffs affect "around 15 people," the source said. "The company is still attempting to procure new work, but that isn't likely. All laid off developers have been told it is more prudent to find new positions."

According to metrics tracker AppData, The Oregon Trail currently attracts around 20,000 daily active users, while Carmen Sandiego attracts under 3,000.

The studio had also released games for iOS platforms, as well as a reversi game for Kindle.

Gamasutra has contacted the studio for official confirmation.

[UPDATE: Blue Fang CEO Hank Howie told Boston Globe's Scott Kirsner that the studio cut around 10 developers who were working on games with The Learning Company, which partnered on The Oregon Trail and Carmen Sandiego.

According to Kirsner's report, the partnership is now over, but the CEO claimed that the studio will continue to develop games despite the severed ties with The Learning Company. Around 20 people are left at the company, according to the CEO.

However, Gamasutra's source rebutted Howie's statement. The source claims that several workers were in fact laid off weeks ago after additional project funding from The Learning Company failed, as the CEO suggested, but the 15 layoffs reported today are in addition to those previous layoffs (about 25 in total in recent weeks). The source said there are no developers nor senior staff on hand to actively develop new games in-house, contrary to the CEO's statement.

A separate source told Gamasutra that he was contacted by a number of ex-Blue Fang workers this week who were looking for work.

Calls to Howie and other Blue Fang contacts were not returned as of press time.]

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